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Who will be the next first-time college football national championship coach?

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On Monday night, Virginia and Texas Tech will battle for the men’s basketball national championship. A victory will clinch the first national championship as a head coach for either Virginia head coach Tony Bennett or Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard. But if you want college basketball coverage, our friends over at College Basketball Talk have you taken care of. Here, we’ll take the football angle and try to determine what college football coach will be the next to win his first national championship.

First, a refresher of the recent history of championship head coaches. Unless you’ve been sleeping under Howard’s Rock, you know the last four national titles have been split evenly by Nick Saban of Alabama and Dabo Swinney of Clemson. Swinney is the most recent coach to win his first national championship, having done so three seasons ago with a victory over Saban’s Crimson Tide in the 2016 season. Before Swinney, the most recent coach to win his first national title was Jimbo Fisher, then at Florida State, in the 2013 season in the final BCS Championship Game before the College Football Playoff took over. Since the 2010 season, the only other coach to win his first national title was Gene Chizik at Auburn, doing so in the 2010 season with Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton topping the Oregon Ducks in the BCS Championship Game.

There are certainly some obvious candidates to be the next coach to win his first national title. The conversation likely has to begin with Lincoln Riley of Oklahoma. In his first two seasons as head coach of the Sooners, Riley has taken two Big 12 championship teams into the College Football Playoff with a Heisman Trophy quarterback, although the Sooners have yet to win a playoff game. Each time, Oklahoma was eliminated by the national title runner-up. It doesn’t look as though Oklahoma is going to be slowing down any time soon, although the competition just in the conference may improve and make a playoff run a tad more difficult. Tom Herman at Texas could be the most likely coach out of the Big 12 not named Riley to win his first national title.

There are still some coaches to watch in the SEC as well. Kirby Smart has already taken Georgia to the national title game, where they lost in overtime against Alabama two seasons ago. He will certainly be in the mix to win his first national title. He’s even taken out Riley and Oklahoma! Dan Mullen at Florida could be a coach in the running as well, although there may still be some work to do in Gainesville before Florida can crack the four-team playoff field. Or will the football gods align the fates just right for Ed Orgeron to take LSU the distance?

The ACC is tough to find a coach you can feel has a great shot to be the next coach to win his first national title, especially with Clemson continuing to roll for the foreseeable future. The Pac-12 looks like a difficult spot too considering the quality of play in the conference recently. The thought of Mike Leach being the next to win his first national title is fun to dream about though.

But what about the Big Ten? Ryan Day is taking over as head coach of a playoff-worthy candidate at Ohio State this season. Jim Harbaugh should have another strong Big Ten contender to work with this upcoming season. James Franklin and Penn State have a couple hurdles they need to prove they can clear again before making their case, but all three coaches would certainly be on the radar.

Or, if you dare to do so, do you think there is a Group of Five coach out there ready to make the jump to a power conference program and guide them to a national title in the next few years while Saban and Swinney go another couple of championship rounds? Call your shot in the comment section or on Twitter.

Oregon coaches took field trip to Alabama, Georgia

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The 2019 season is one that will see the bar raised for the Oregon Ducks. The second season under head coach Mario Cristobal could see the Ducks challenge for the Pac-12 title if things go according to plan in Eugene. With spring football in season, Cristobal took his entire coaching staff on a trip to see how some of the best coaching staffs in the SEC operate.

As reported by The Oregonian, Cristobal and the Oregon coaching staff paid a visit to Alabama and Georgia to meet up with the coaches of the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs. Cristobal is a former Alabama assistant under Nick Saban and worked under Kirby Smart, who is now the head coach at Georgia. It pays to have some good connections for Cristobal, it would seem.

A trip for a coaching staff like this is not at all uncommon in college football. But it is notable that Cristobal returned to the SEC to have his coaching staff take some notes from Saban’s and Smart’s. Alabama and Georgia are defending division champions in the SEC and met in the SEC Championship Game last season, a year after their national championship showdown in the College Football Playoff of the 2017 season. Of course, Alabama has been on the national championship level for a number of years now and Smart is looking to have Georgia in that same company on a regular basis.

It has been a few years since Oregon was considered a national title contender (their appearance in the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship Game is already fading in the memory bank), but things are starting to look as though they are turning around for the Ducks. And if Cristobal can run his coaching staff the way Saban has over the years, then Oregon will certainly be in good hands in the years to come.

SEC rolls out four-day summer media day schedule

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Once again, the SEC will be masters of media day coverage in the middle of the summer with a four-day media day extravaganza. This year, the SEC is returning to Birmingham, Alabama. The SEC distributed updated details about this year’s media day event including what schools and coaches will be speaking on what day.

The SEC will open up the 2019 media day fun on Monday, July 15 from the Hyatt Regency Birmingham – Wynfrey Hotel. Television coverage of the event will be available through the SEC Network as well as ESPN over the course of the four days.

The exact order of what coaches will be speaking at what times will be hashed out later on, but Florida’s Dan Mullen, LSU’s Ed Orgeron, and Missouri’s Barry Odom will be featured on Day 1 on Monday, July 15. Day 2 will feature Kirby Smart of Georgia, Matt Luke of Ole Miss, Jeremy Pruitt of Tennessee, and Jimbo Fisher of Texas A&M. Alabama’s Nick Saban will highlight the festivities on Day 3, with Chad Morris of Arkansas, Joe Moorhead of Mississippi State and Will Muschamp of South Carolina also getting their time in front of the microphone. Day 4 will wrap things up with Gus Malzahn of Auburn, Mark Stoops of Kentucky, and Derek Mason of Vanderbilt.

Here is the full SEC Media Day schedule, for those planning ahead.

2019 SEC FOOTBALL MEDIA DAYS SCHEDULE

MONDAY, July 15
Florida – Dan Mullen
LSU – Ed Orgeron
Missouri – Barry Odom

TUESDAY, July 16
Georgia – Kirby Smart
Ole Miss – Matt Luke
Tennessee – Jeremy Pruitt
Texas A&M – Jimbo Fisher

WEDNESDAY, July 17
Alabama – Nick Saban
Arkansas – Chad Morris
Mississippi State – Joe Moorhead
South Carolina – Will Muschamp

THURSDAY, July 18
Auburn – Gus Malzahn
Kentucky – Mark Stoops
Vanderbilt – Derek Mason

While the SEC media days are going on, the ACC will also be holding their media day event in Charlotte, North Carolina. The ACC media day runs from July 16 through July 18.

Georgia hires ex-Pitt offensive coordinator Shawn Watson for quality control job

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Former Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Shawn Watson has found a new job. Watson is heading down to Georgia to take on a role as an offensive quality control analyst.

“Shawn brings a wealth of knowledge and experience with him after coaching the offensive side of the ball around the country during his career,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said in a released statement. “He is an excellent addition to our staff and we are pleased to have him in Athens already.”

Watson served as offensive coordinator for Pittsburgh for the past two seasons, replacing Matt Canada on the staff led by Pat Narduzzi. After a down year for the Pitt offense, however, Watson was one of the coaches relieved of their duties by Narduzzi at the end of the 2018 football season. At Georgia as a quality control analyst, Watson will help monitor the offense and assist in coaching and player development.

Watson will take on the role previously held at Georgia by Jay Johnson. Johnson left Georgia to join new Colorado head coach Mel Tucker, who was Georgia’s defensive coordinator. Georgia is still looking to fill the role of defensive coordinator in Athens.

Kirby Smart the latest college coach to get name thrown into NFL rumor mill

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By all accounts, Kirby Smart is currently holding his dream job as the head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs. The chances Smart leaves Georgia for another job are probably very slim at most. But considering how much success Smart has had in a short period of time at a program that continues to pump out NFL talent through the draft process, it is easy to understand why Smart may have his name attached to various NFL coaching rumors at some point during his coaching career. Now, it turns out, the NFL coaching rumor mill has latched on to Smart’s name.

In a story about the interest some NFL coaches have in Alabama head coach Nick Saban published by CBSSports.com NFL reporter Jason La Canfora, the idea that former assistants under Saban may be drawing similar interest from NFL suitors was presented. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers “would be interested in speaking to Georgia coach Kirby Smart,” according to La Canfora. Fortunately for Georgia, the conversation about their head coach being a potential NFL coaching target seemed to end right there.

Would Smart even consider leaving Georgia for the Bucs? Obviously, that is a question only Smart could ever answer for sure. But it is worth remembering Smart is a former Georgia football player who started his coaching career as an administrative assistant for the Bulldogs and it had been presumed he had been waiting for a head coaching vacancy to come open at Georgia when he could have potentially had a handful of other opportunities to be a head coach prior to leaving Alabama for Georgia in 2016. He has already lifted Georgia to being a legitimate SEC and playoff contender in just a couple of years, and the future continues to look promising for the Dawgs with Smart at the helm.

Smart has never given a hint that he was interested in coaching in the NFL, but of course, what college coach does? But this may be nothing more than a brief murmur in the NFL coaching circles this offseason. Such is life in college football as a successful head coach.